USC-Oregon Could Be The Redemption Bowl
A week ago, USC fans, depressed and discouraged, were openly dreading Oregon’s visit to the Coliseum on Oct. 30.
Now they can hardly wait for what looks like the biggest college game in L.A. in a couple of years.
Funny how things can change so quickly in this sport. The Trojans, with their own high-powered offense and new, improved defense, blew away a decent Cal team, 48-14, on Saturday. And the score could have been a lot worse if Lane Kiffin hadn’t eased up in the second half.
Meanwhile, Ohio State was upset at Wisconsin, and Oregon has taken over as the No. 1 team in the national polls. The Ducks need only get by UCLA in Eugene on Thursday night, a game they should be favored to win by more than two touchdowns, and the table will be set.
It will be 5-2 USC against unbeaten Oregon at the Coliseum. Call it the Redemption Bowl.
After all the Trojans have been through, beginning with last year’s 47-20 humiliation in Eugene and continuing through the change in coaches, the NCAA sanctions and thinned out roster, this is a game, and a challenge, Kiffin’s kids can really sink their teeth into.
Are they actually capable of winning it? That would have been a definite no before Saturday. Before the defense that had been so thoroughly shredded by Stanford and Washington and almost everyone else on the schedule suddenly tightened the screws and completely shut down a Cal team that had knocked off UCLA, 35-7, the week before.
Of course, Oregon’s blinding speed and spread the field offense has little in common with Cal’s old-school, straight dropback attack. The Trojans will find it much more difficult, if not impossible, to slow down LaMichael James and Co.
Ah, but Oregon will have its own problems dealing with USC’s flashy, new offense. You start with Kiffin’s imaginitive schemes and creative playcalling, then you add a vastly improved Matt Barkley and wideout Robert Woods, who might be the best freshman in America, and you have a team capable of scoring 40 points on anybody.
Now the Trojans have two weeks to get ready and healthy. Add it all up and it becomes the most eagerly awaited football game USC has played since Ohio State came to town two years ago.
The chance to knock off No. 1 and avenge that horrific loss of a year ago will easily sell out the grand, old lady on Figueroa and the decibel level will be off the charts.
USC isn’t eligible for a postseason bowl this season, but that doesn’t matter now. Not with all that will be at stake on Oct. 30.
Think back to the last time the Trojans played in the Rose Bowl. It was two years ago against Penn State, and while their victory was fun and entertaining for their fans, what did it really mean?
Not nearly as much as the Redemption Bowl a week from Saturday.
A few quick hits from another busy fall sports weekend:
The Rangers’ Cliff Lee won’t just be pitching against the Yankees in the ALCS Monday night. He will be auditioning for them. It’s no secret Lee is the Yanks’ No. 1 free agent target . . .
The Angels are hoping Lee’s asking price is astronomical. The higher it is, the better chance Arte Moreno and Co. will have of signing Carl Crawford, their own No. 1 free agent target . . .
The new Heisman Trophy frontrunner has to be Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. Have you seen this kid on tape yet? If not, you should. He’s 6-6, 250 and runs like a quicker, shiftier Tim Tebow . . .
I love Rocco Mediate, but come on. How athletic can golf be if this guy spent all weekend making eagles? . . .
The San Diego Chargers have way too much talent to be stumbling around like this. But then, we say that every year, don’t we? . . .
Am I the only one quietly rooting for Boise State to make it to the BCS title game? . . .
Every time I watch the Colts, I think Peyton Manning is not only their quarterback but their offensive coordinator, as well . . .
So wait, the Texas team that was blown out by UCLA bounces back to beat Nebraska? Sure didn’t see that one coming . . .
— STEVE BISHEFF